Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Minor Observation #11

Every simple question has a whole bunch of complicated questions trapped inside it, waiting to get out

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Waiting for all the brilliant insight

When you first read a post by Seth Godin, you're struck by the brilliant insight. And then you pause and reflect a bit, and see the banality through the epiphany. 

Usually, when someone says (and I quote from his post)
"I'm just going to wait until all the facts are in" 
it's just a casual way of saying (and I paraphrase slightly from his post)
"I don't know enough at this time to make a useful decision"
or even
"I don't know enough at this time to know what else I need to know to make a useful decision"

Either that or it's a tactful way of saying
"I choose not to respond now"

In such situations, people won't come out and say what exactly they're waiting for, because then they'd be pressed further on that count. Simple, mundane stuff, when you think about it. But to Godin it's a big deal.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Minor Observation #10

An optimist considers the possibility that things could get worse than they are at present, but eventually believes that they won't. A pessimist considers the possibility that things could get better than they are at present, but eventually believes that they won't. 

It follows then that optimists believe things are so bad that they can only get better, and pessimists that things are so good that they just couldn't get any better.

So who has a more positive attitude in dealing with the present?

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

A tale of two quotes

A friend posted this quote on Facebook earlier today:

"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend." - Albert Camus

And I was immediately reminded of this quote:

‎"Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way." - George S Patton

To my mind, this sums up the main difference between an egalitarian/ libertarian culture (of the type found in a network of peers) and a patriarchal/ authoritarian one (of the type found in a hierarchy based on power). The question is not about good or bad, or right or wrong - these are moral judgments rooted in the culture one belongs to, and will only affirm the "home" culture. 

Both cultures are equally capable of providing the foundations to build a harmonious society, if all members of that society were to be of the same disposition. Given such homogeneity, even if the economic and political outlook of individuals were to be different, the method of resolving such differences would be clear to all - in one case based on evolution of a consensus (failing which, a majority opinion) through discourse, and in the other, based on the dictates of those who wield power.

However, in our real world both cultures co-exist in space and time (as I'd observed in an old post), albeit in different proportions in different spaces and different times. And that is why we will always have deep divisions arising out of these two very different cultures. Our best bet would be to look at the direction in which the resultant vector (weighted by the population of each of these two cultures) points at a given time, within a given society. And that means periodic negotiations leading to a moderation of conflicting views, on a continuous basis. 

Tough work but such is life.

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Grammar of Kakistocracy

With Anna Hazare and co. "joining politics", a major debate appears to have been settled. 

Over the last year or so, conniving politicians have tried every trick in the book, at all possible levels and from all possible quarters, ranging from the basest brute force attacks to the most sophisticated intellectual criticism, to derail "team Anna" and their agenda. This alone is an indication of the kind of threat Hazare et al. posed to the smug kakistocracy that controls this country. And this in turn is a vindication of the vital role of protests in a vibrant democracy. Hazare and co.'s movement was always political - all protests are - but because of their naivete, they have been manipulated into turning partisan. Their critics are now jumping with glee, falling all over themselves with "See? We told you so" messages and wisecracks. 

There's a place for protest in every democracy, and Anna and his network were doing a fine job. Though I did not agree with everything they said, they enjoyed my support for their central cause - of fighting corruption through peaceful protests. Would I support the political party they are going to form? I doubt it. Their core competency was protest, not governance. I won't be surprised if they were to suffer a massive defeat at the hustings (they may even lose their deposit) and from then on be relegated to a footnote in history. What started with a bang last April, I am quite certain, will end with a whimper. 

Corrupt politicians and bureaucrats are already rejoicing, because they've managed to neutralize the single major threat to their control over the status-quo. They can now return to business as usual and continue with their rent-seeking modus operandi, unencumbered by protests. Think-tankers and policy wonks, funded or supported by the powers that be in some way or other, are already thrilled that they've managed to "expose the hidden fascist agenda" of these humble protesters. (Remember the "Grammar of Anarchy" argument?) They can now return to their echo chambers and continue their cerebral masturbation, undistracted by the challenge of finding fault with the reform proposals put forward by a bunch of rubes who dared to challenge their brahminical authority as problem-solvers to the country.

Meanwhile the nation suffers a huge loss. Kakistocracy wins. Again.

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